FUNGHI FUTURES, founded by Adam Saynor, is a not-for-profit social enterprise growing gourmet mushrooms from recycled waste. They make mushroom grow kits from recycled coffee grounds, with the aim to help set up a network of projects across the UK – recycling waste coffee grounds and cardboard in UK cities and turning them into delicious Gourmet Mushrooms and nutrient-rich compost.
The pearl oyster mushrooms are grown from 75% recycled coffee grounds which are full of cellulose, lignin, nitrogen, sugars and other nutrients and have already been sterilised while going through the espresso machine, and 25% recycled cardboard which comes from Paperchain – a recycling social enterprise based in Exeter who collect waste cardboard from local businesses and shred it.
Here at The Kitchen Table, having so many amazing producers and suppliers within a few miles of Totnes, we felt we could showcase what they grow, make, process and produce on a regular basis with a celebratory ‘cook-up’ every season! Adam’s beautiful mushrooms are wonderfully rich and delicious – the perfect ingredient for a gloomy January evening.
Adam gave them to us already a little started – the small pin-head fungus were showing and we watched over a few days as they blossomed into beautiful oyster mushrooms. To harvest them, on the day we did our big ‘mushroom dedicated cook-up’, we simply cut the ‘bunch’ away from the compost and we were ready to cook and eat!
Unfortunately, Adam couldn’t be at our feast but we invited some friends who loved the unique flavour of the brandy reduction and succulent mushrooms with the rare griddled wood-pidgeon breast and the delicious braised puy lentils and mushroooms that Hannah made. Both dishes were beautifully complimented by locally grown organic curly kale and a glass of red wine!
Mushrooms in brandy reduction
150g finely chopped onion
2x cloves of garlic, crushed
100mls chicken stock
400g oyster mushrooms (cut as you like; diced, sliced)
Sweat the onions in some good olive oil (or sustainable duck fat) on a low heat until translucent, add the garlic then the mushrooms and raise the heat a little and brown them off. Add the brandy, reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes or so then add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes of so, stirring occasionally. The sauce should thicken and reduce.
Served great with game or beef.
Adam says “Fungi are the great recyclers of the Earth. They recycle waste… Some even produce delicious gourmet fruits along the way. Morel, Shiitake, Wine Cap, Oyster mushrooms – in the wild they all live on dead organic matter, waste… they have evolved incredible enzymes which break down the complex bonds in these materials to make use of them as their food, and ultimately to help them to produce mushrooms from. In doing so, they also recycle these materials back into the soil for trees and plants to make use of again.
… some of the enzymes they have evolved to break down wood and leaf litter are capable of breaking down other organic wastes too…
Here at Fungi Futures, we have become interested in other forms of waste that mushrooms can live on. Cardboard for one is produced and used en-masse every single day – often it’s only used once before being discarded or sent for recycling into weaker and weaker cardboard of low value. Coming from trees originally, it’s makeup is similar to wood, and many mushrooms are able to eat it up – breaking it down and producing delicious gourmet edible protein along the way.
And then there is coffee waste. Something we are all familiar with. An estimated 80 millions cups a day drunk in the UK. And what happens to the waste grounds? Most of it is put into black bags and thrown into landfill. Oyster Mushrooms, however, are a very versatile mushroom and can feed off of these tons of waste coffee grounds – converting it to rich compost and producing edible delights too.
Over the coming months we will look at other sources of waste and see what mushrooms we can grow from it. Ultimately, we think it is a crime to throw this waste away when high-value, nutritious, protein-rich food can be grown from it. It is a fact that we will not be farming so many animals in the future. The scale of our current methods are unsustainable for multiple reasons (not least the amount of land, water & fertiliser required). So, we best start looking at alternative sources of protein…And not soya – this too requires vast land and resources.
What we do have though is truck loads of waste….and a method to convert it into tasty, healthy protein. The future will undoubtedly involve more Mushrooms from Waste!”
One of the other exciting projects/ ideas Adam has is to visit schools and teach about funghi. I don’t think we learned much about this crucial part of the eco-system in my school and I can imagine watching your dinner grow, harvesting it, cooking and eating it while learning about the incredible environmental benefits of funghi would be amazing for children and young people alike!
If you would like to know more or buy a mushroom kit, check out Adam’s website – www.fungi-futures.co.uk